Certainly, we do not see poverty in its abject form here in Singapore. However, poverty exists here and to sideline the issue is akin to sweeping the social ills in our community under the rug. How can a society have stability if the concerns of any particular community are marginalized?
The government’s approach to poverty seems piecemeal – a patchwork of policy response. “Kuih Lapis” is the term that the ruling party has used to respond to this issue.
Ironically, the otherwise sweet and savoury Kuih Lapis has left a bitter taste in the mouth of our activists, and presumably in Mr. Sharma’s mouth too. We invite Mr. Sharma to post his response on The Independent Singapore.
Below is Dr Vincent Wijeysingha’s Facebook post.
UPDATE: Response from Gaurav Sharma
To start with, I must express my deep appreciation and kudos for Vincent and other civil society members who have been working tirelessly for the under-privileged in Singapore for years. I have not met Vincent personally, but what I have gathered from being in the field as a journalist, he is a shining beacon of hope for lots of Singaporeans.
Regarding Vincent not agreeing and questioning the tenor of my opinion piece published in Breakfast Network, I believe he has every right to do so.
Regarding his statements about me being “uninformed”, “making light of the issue” and other insinuations, I refer readers to Newzzit, where they can read all the previous stories we have carried on the issue of poverty in Singapore.
Newzzit has just published its latest 8th issue. This link here, contains all our previous seven issues, which can give a glimpse to the readers about our editorial policy. Also, read here to know more about what we stand for in terms of journalistic principles.
I will leave it to the readers to form their opinions about me, Newzzit, and what we stand for as a journalistic organisation.
I can just summarise that our goal is to take journalism back to where it belongs – to the readers. That’s why, Newzzit is not open to any kind of funding or advertisements. We stand for total editorial freedom with credibility, without any censorship from authorities or monetary pressure from advertisers.
A great testimony to what we stand for is this newspaper. Newzzit has been collaborating with The Independent Singapore for the past few months, after our launch, and regular readers might have read few of our stories on this website.
I am grateful to Mr Pillai for the trust he has shown in Newzzit and look forward to all future collaborations with him.
Now to the specifics
Like Vincent, I too believe that civil society organisations such as One Singapore, Lien Centre, and National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre; academics such as Irene Ng, Jacqueline Loh; as well as MPs such as Laurence Lien, have been working tirelessly to bring the issue of poverty in mainstream discourse in Singapore.
That’s why, as readers will find reading Newzzit stories, all these references and many more such as data from the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sport; National Trade Union Congress; Ministry of Manpower; and the United Nations, have been extensively quoted in our stories.
The Breakfast Network opinion piece also carried a link to the study published in the latest issue of Social Space (by the Lien Centre) so that interested readers may read about the poverty situation in Singapore in detail. Few pertinent comments from the issue were weaved in the piece as well to entice reader’s interest.
It is to the credit of all the above-mentioned that poverty has became a buzzword in recent times. Otherwise, in the past, as Vincent pointed out, “the question of poverty was suppressed”.
Finally, on Vincent’s opinion that I “will move on to the next amusing topic to catch my eye”, I assure him that Newzzit will continue on it’s quest of pursuing human-oriented people-centred journalism. I hope that he keeps reading Newzzit.
We are in this together, my friend!